Title: Tales of My Uncle Bob
Author: Chris Robinson
Illustrations by: Claire Wildish
Genre: Children’s Book
Reviewed by: Beth Adams
Pacific Book Review Star
Awarded to Books of Excellent Merit
In this enjoyable children’s storybook, Tales of My Uncle Bob, author Chris Robinson takes to the lighthearted vernacular of the world “Down Under.” With the dusty and barren deserts, scorpions and snakes, Uncle Bob is the personification of a loner – a cowboy of the outback. Even the way he came into this world had a uniqueness – found in a hollow tree as a baby with his feet sticking out. He was brought to the local post office and dropped on the doorstep. An abandoned little boy, reluctantly adopted by his “Mum” and not having a name until he needed one – for a birth certificate. Fred and Mike would be just fine, but since the fee for the filing of a birth certificate was 2 Bob – hence Bob became his name. Uncle Bob was a man as course as the old fashioned cowboy image, living as a role model for a lifestyle measured by the calendar, not by the clock. Perfectly content to be left with a jar a Vegemite and a jug of water, Uncle Bob made his way among the horses and goats of the Australian outback, finding pleasure in the nothingness and needing little. Tough as nails, he taught himself how to write his name, and learned from the land the lessons of the world.
Tales of My Uncle Bob is filled with stories which are fanciful while being quite innocent. There is one about Bob, as a kid, noticing that ants would dig holes and dump the different colors of sand each in its own pile. Unknowingly Uncle Bob found the pile of yellow sand to be heavy and had a luster to it, so he put it in an empty Vegemite jar and kept it in his room. He managed to collect three jars of this sand when one day his Mum discovered it and noticed it was gold. After proving to his Mum he found the gold and didn’t take it, his Mum stayed up all night on the porch with a shotgun in her lap so nobody would steal it, and the next morning they took it into town for money.
Uncle Bob was a great horseman. Once he went to prove his skills by having his horse jump over a fence – as a bet. Little did he know on the other side of the fence was a rocky ravine which would kill anyone landing on it. Off Uncle Bob went into the air on his horse, but at the top he realized he made an error in judgment! Saying something into the ear of his horse, the two miraculously turned in mid-air, landing safely back on the side in which they started. What a close call!
Then my favorite was when Uncle Bob entered a goat race – the winner was to get $5,000. Well obviously Uncle Bob won, but in the excitement the goat ate the award money. Goats eat anything, you know. With the location, phrases and humor of the Aussie outback, Uncle Bob rivals Crocodile Dundee for the best of Australian export. Combining the master word crafting of Chris Robinson, complimented by whimsical illustrations by Claire Wildish, Uncle Bob takes children’s imagination far away, chapter-by-chapter, into the adventures of the outback. Each story can be read by youngsters and the Tales of My Uncle Bob will embellish the imagination of generations of children as this book is a keepsake to any family library. Because when all things are good in Australia, the expression is, “Bob’s your Uncle.” It’s nice to have an Uncle Bob.